Today is the feast of the Holy Family. Jesus chose to enter the world by becoming part of a family. Today’s feast seems an abrupt intrusion into the Christmas season. There is a sound reason for it, though. The Church, worried lest we mistakenly identify Christ’s presence exclusively by the signs of adoring shepherds and angels singing, quickly changes the scene, as it were, to remind us that the God who became man, wants to mix with us in the rather ordinary circumstances of everyday home life.
Everyone of us has family connections. Our families, whatever their structure, form the bases of our lives and our society. More importantly, our families serve as the prime source of our faith in God and the goodness of life. Families are important for the individual, society, and the Church. If such is the case for us, surely it was the case for Jesus. It was no accident, then, that Jesus, the Word made flesh, was grounded in the deep, sustaining love of a family.
Today’s feast of the Holy Family shows how Jesus needed a family in order to grow to maturity. There, he was raised to be the man he became. There, he discovered the values, traditions, and faith he was to champion. Through Joseph, he learned the worth and the cost of labor and experienced the strength and gentleness of a human father’s love. Through Mary, he recognized the uncommon worth of a woman and experienced the depth of a mother’s love. Although he was the Son of God, Jesus would never upset his human family connections. Till the end, he held fast to the values garnered there, assuring his mother of a lasting care. If God can put so much faith in the human family, we can do no less.
Nonetheless, today the family is in trouble. The family needs healing in our day, and the Feast of the Holy Family constitutes a remarkable invitation to look for it. We are witnessing a breakdown of the traditional family values. Today’s Gospel says Herod is searching for the child to destroy him. Those words pronounced 2,000 years ago apply today. Forces of evil have risen in our time to destroy both the unwanted child. Forces are at work in our times that contribute to make it a child-destroying and family-destroying culture.
Against this modern background of a radically changing family life style, the Church presents today the traditional religious celebration of the Holy Family. Perhaps the Church’s main task is to announce to all people that the old values are still applicable and should be pursued to the best of our ability. A large number of people see the Holy Family as a model and source of help for Christian families. As Christian families we need to remember that our greatest helper is God. He who created man and woman, must give us enlightened solutions to all our problems. He has honored family life by being part of it. Through prayer and constant effort we can restore the family to holiness, health, and happiness.
It is important to note, however, that the peace of family life does not exclude hardship and strife originating inside and outside the family. Today’s Gospel speaks of forces beyond the control of the Holy Family, but God’s peace remained with them. After all, Mary and Joseph had in their midst the Prince of Peace. If today a Christian family does not experience peace, it is possible that the Prince of Peace does not rule the heart of each member?